Tree is town's Christmas gift

November 14, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Wilbur and Ruth Wilson have a snapshot of their 19-year-old granddaughter, Megan, standing near a tiny blue spruce tree near the driveway of the Wilson's home.

Megan was around 2 years old at the time, her grandfather said. The blue spruce behind her in the photo looks like it was about 4 feet tall.

Early next week, some men will come to the Wilson's home at 13554 Country Side Lane and cut down the spruce, which now stands more than 30 feet high. It outgrew its space in the Wilson's yard and is too big for Wilbur Wilson to keep trimmed.


The men will haul the tree to the middle of the Public Square in downtown Greencastle where it will stand as the borough's official Christmas tree for the 2003 holiday season.

Crews will string hundreds of white lights up and down its green boughs and at 7 p.m. on Nov. 21, a child will flip a switch and the lights will shine.

That ceremony will mark the official beginning of the Greencastle-Antrim Heritage Christmas celebration. The Wilson's tree plus other trees in the public square and beyond will be lighted with 2,000 white lights, downtown shops will extend their hours, horse and buggy rides will again become popular in the borough and the next day, Nov. 22, the annual Christmas parade is to get under way at 9:21 a.m.

Greencastle is getting a Christmas present of its own this year in the form of a $10,000 grant from the 3 percent hotel room tax collected by Franklin County, said Dana Given, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

The money will pay for 1,000 more white lights, period Victorian-era costumes, including those of a Christmas angel, Mr. and Mrs. Snowman and eight elves, that will be worn by residents to enhance the feeling of an old-time Christmas.

"We're also going to have more entertainment this year," Given said.

Some of the grant money will pay for improvements to the Holiday House, the small building placed in the square during the Christmas season where patrons can buy tickets to the various events.

"It's going to be insulated, have better heat and a counter," Given said.

Heritage Christmas especially comes to life on the three Friday nights before Christmas - this year Dec. 5, 12 and 19 - when special events take place. On those nights, the Christmas angel, in the person of Michelle Scott, will greet shoppers and hand out gifts provided by local businesses.

Another way to celebrate the season is by stopping by the Chamber of Commerce office at 217 E. Baltimore St., to buy the 2003 version of the Heritage Christmas holiday ornament.

This year's theme is "Christmas in Greencastle." The ornament shows the holiday tree in the public square, a Victorian street lamp and the historic First National Bank of Greencastle building and its bell tower.

The ornament, suitable for hanging on a Christmas tree, is the 12th in the series since the chamber started to sell them.

The first year the ornament depicted Martin's Mill Bridge. Over the years, scenes have included the Greencastle train station, the town clock, Rescue Hose Co. No 1, Anderson Grist Mill, Allison's Tavern and Old Home Week.

Another popular feature that continues this year is the annual Home Tour featuring five local homes decked out for the Christmas holiday. Tickets for the tour cost $10. About 400 people take the tour every year, Given said.

Homeowners are encouraged to stretch their imaginations and decorate their doors for the holiday season, an effort that can net prizes for the three that the judges deem to be the best.

For information on Heritage Christmas events, call the chamber office at 717-597-4610 or go to on the Web.

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